Action Park: America's First Deadly, Infamous Theme Park

By | January 6, 2020

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Children romp around at the water park on a hot summer's day. (Photo by Richard Koll/picture alliance via Getty Images)

You expect a fun day at your local amusement park to be just that: a fun day. You expect to eat way too much funnel cake before zooming through the loops of a rollercoaster while various safety equipment and employees (mostly) protect you from harm. (The funnel cake is generally an "at your own risk" kind of deal.) One former theme park in New Jersey, however, failed to live up to these expectations. In the twenty-plus years that the part was inexplicably allowed to remain open, six people died and more than 100 were injured during what was ostensibly supposed to be a whimsical outing with families and friends. Let's look at the history of Action Park, the scourge of New Jersey. 

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From 1978 to 1996, visitors flocked to Action Park. (

Action Park Opened In 1978

When it first opened in 1978 in Vernon, New Jersey, Action Park was billed as one of the first modern water parks in the country. Its founder and CEO, Gene Mulvihill, had a vision of a futuristic park where patrons could control their own thrill level. That philosophy, however, was often at odds with the laws of physics and the going rate of quality construction.